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Sculpture and Custom

Ornament and sculpture embellish architecture. Yet, depending on size and location, decorative elements may be exposed to lightning strikes and should be integrated into a building’s lightning protection system.

Decorative Sculpture and Custom

Ornament and sculpture embellish architecture. Yet, depending on size and location, decorative elements may be exposed to lightning strikes and should be integrated into a building’s lightning protection system.

East Coast Lightning Equipment, Inc. and the skilled lightning protection specialists we work with can help you determine how to install lightning protection on existing or proposed building features without harming their beauty.

In many instances, an artwork itself can be used instead of a traditional air terminal (lightning rod). National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 780 – Installation of Lightning Protection Systems allows metal parts of a structure, including decorative elements, to be used as “strike termination devices” if they are made of metal at least 3/16 inch thick and electrically continuous with the rest of the lightning protection system.

If an artwork does not meet these criteria, we will suggest how to install conventional lightning protection components that are compatible.

While some of the projects shown here do not have lightning protection systems, they are examples of architectural and decorative elements that might be used as strike termination devices.

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Le Méridien Hotel Cambridge, MA

This steel turret at the corner of the roof creates identity and helps the building command the street corner. It is connected to the building’s lightning protection system to act as a strike protection device.

Boston Lightning Rod Co.
Photo (c) Bruce Buck 2013, courtesy Le Méridien


Architect: Ismael Leyva Architects P.C.

A glass railing gives prominence to the views from the roof top swimming pool and skydeck of the luxury BRKLYN | AIR building in Brooklyn. Its metal railing and balusters are specially designed and fabricated as strike termination devices, eliminating the need for air terminals.

Associated Lightning Rod Co.,
Photo courtesy of installer.

Architect: Olson Kundig Architects

Air terminals are visible on the wood roof deck. But the steel chimney cap and outrigger beam act as strike termination devices. The glass wall of this house in the Hamptons rolls to close the home when necessary.

Lightning protection by Associated Lightning Rod Co.
Photo (c) Benjamin Benschneider


Rooftop Watertank

A painted double helix clues marks this as a biomedical research facility in Cambridge, MA. The metal structure of the tank acts as a strike protection device.

Boston Lightning Rod Co.,
Photo courtesy of installer

Artists: Doug and Mike Starn
When the artists’ Big Bambú installation was mounted at the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the building’s lightning protection system had to be extended to the top of the temporary structure.

Lightning protection by Associated Lightning Rod Co.
Photo courtesy of the artists

Theme Parks
Many of the buildings in Orlando theme parks have air terminals disguised as part of the building’s theme. On the sculpture at the top of this pavilion, for example, Mickey Mouse’s ear is a copper strike termination device.

Theme Park University


The Last Billboard, Pittsburgh, PA
Each month, an artist is invited to install a text message on this public art piece. Its steel framing can be used as a strike termination device. This text is by artist Kim Beck.

Photo: Idealcities (CC BY-SA 4.0)


Religious Symbols

Even though we may aspire to a higher realm, we must still ground our places of worship.

Photos: CrossCrescentHindu TempleBuddhist TempleAngel MoroniMenorah

Parliament, Canada
The ornamental metal was integrated into the lightning protection system during the historic building’s reroofing and exterior rehabilitation.

Burchell Lightning Protection
Photo courtesy PWGSC Canada

Artist: Priestley Lightning Protection
“We modeled this after the lighthouse that used to be on the lake. It is built around a standard air terminal and the lightning protection cables are concealed inside the piers supporting the railings and deck.

Photo courtesy of artist

Artist: David Smith
“I use Earth elements (Copper, Silver, Beryllium, Bismuth, Fire and Wind), sculpting techniques developed by myself, and Old World metalsmithing techniques to create hand-forged architectural elements.”

Photo courtesy of artist

Artist: Daniel Stuart

“…there is something magical about pulling a piece of steel out of the forge when it is heated to 2000 degrees. The metal is almost alive, dancing and shimmering with colors of red, orange, and yellow.”

Photo courtesy of artist

Antique Air Terminals
Multiple points were thought to improve the performance of air terminals. While that has been disproved, these antique copper air terminals suggest a form that can inspire contemporary strike termination devices.

Photo courtesy of Zena Kruzick

Artist: Priestley Lightning Protection

This “Harry Potter Gothic” cottage has custom fabricated strike termination devices repeating the zig-zag motif used throughout the house.

Photo courtesy of artist

Architect: Wolf D. Prix

“The free-form bell tower of the Martin Luther Church in Hainburg was manufactured, by means of shipbuilding technology, as a vertical self-supporting steel structure with wall thickness between 8 and 16 millimeter.”

Photo: E-W (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Architect: Holabird & Root

Sculptor John Storrs says of the statue of Ceres atop the Chicago Board of Trade Building, “… I had two major points to consider. First, I wanted my work to be in architectural harmony with the building on which it was to stand. Second, I wanted it to be symbolical of the business which the organization the structure was to house.”

Photo at top of page: TonyTheTiger (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Read more about John Storrs

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The bronze griffins and acroteria at the apexes and corners of the Museum are connected to the building’s lightning protection system.

Warren Lightning Rod Company
Photo courtesy of installer

Artist: Fitzhugh Karol

“I named these pieces ‘Lightning Rods’. They are made from recycled and welded machine parts. It would be a great idea to actually do functional lightning rod sculptures. I’ve never done it as such but would love to!”

Photo courtesy of artist

Artist: Name Withheld

Initially designed for indoor display, these bronze castings can be adapted for rooftop use. The artist will accept commissions for hardware, fountains, railings, and other functional and ornamental pieces to complement the air terminals.

Represented by Pierluigi Vecchio

Artist: David LaRocca

“With regard to lightning protection, I would love to have the opportunity to create sculpture that performed so worthy and important a function.”

Photo courtesy of artist

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